Lawyer 2 Lawyer

Tribal Law, Indian Child Welfare Act, and Custody

In a highly publicized custody case involving a 6-year-old girl, the use of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with their American Indian families, has come into play.

The child was recently removed from her foster home after a lower court judge ruled that Lexi’s Choctaw Indian bloodline requires her to live with relatives in Utah.  According to court records, Lexi was moved to foster care four years ago due to her birth mother’s substance abuse problems, her birth father’s criminal history, and custody issues involving both birth parents and other children. Lexi’s foster parents, have since filed an appeal to the California High Court

In this episode of  Lawyer 2 Lawyer, hosts J. Craig Williams and Bob Ambrogi join attorney Lori Alvino McGill, partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz and Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general for Cherokee Nation, who has represented the nation in tribal, state, and federal courts since 2008, as they take an inside look at this case, tribal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and overall child custody cases.

Attorney Lori Alvino McGill is partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz. Lori’s practice focuses on all aspects of appellate strategy, including issue preservation, briefing, argument, and obtaining (and opposing) Supreme Court review. She has handled high-profile civil and criminal appeals involving a wide range of constitutional and statutory issues in state and federal appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. Lori is presently representing the foster parents of Lexi and has appealed to the California’s highest court.

Chrissi Nimmo is assistant attorney general for Cherokee Nation and has represented the nation in tribal, state, and federal courts since 2008. Chrissi primarily focuses on the Indian Child Welfare Act and in-house counsel duties for the nation. She represented Cherokee Nation in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl before both the United States Supreme Court and the South Carolina Supreme Court and in Nielson v. Ketchum before the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Chrissi also serves as the Adam Walsh Act Sex Offender Registration and Notification Compliance Office for Cherokee Nation.

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